For the last three years, I've written pieces in October about Killer POV, my favorite horror movie podcast (and favorite podcast period). With lists like this one and this other one, I have hopefully been successful in getting a lot of people to check them out and turning them on to a great show, which is rewarding because it means that more people like good things and because, selfishly, it means that I have more people with whom to talk about the podcast. It has become the water cooler conversation for me and my friends -- this despite the fact that there is no water cooler and I have hardly any friends. I can start conversations with "Did you hear so-and-so on the new Shock Waves?" or look on Twitter and notice that a lot of people are checking out a movie I know was recommended on the most recent episode. For a lot of us horror lovers, the show has become a centralized hub of horror fandom.
This was the year that Killer POV wrapped after 140 great episodes, only to come back just a few (scheduled) weeks later as Shock Waves, now hosted at Blumhouse.com. Hosted, as always, by Rob Galluzzo, Rebekah McKendry (both of Blumhouse.com) and Elric Kane -- now joined regularly by Ryan Turek -- there is no other horror podcast that talks about the genre with this much depth and reverence. I've heard some that approach horror films academically and I've heard some that approach horror films as enthusiastic fans, but Shock Waves does both better than any other podcast (and I've listened to a lot of them). Depth is never sacrificed for the fun of talking about horror movies, nor vice versa.
The move over to Blumhouse hasn't changed the quality or the format of the show -- it's still my favorite hangout of some friends getting together and being excited about horror. There are a few more sponsorships and the three regular hosts are being joined more often by Ryan Turek, who ran Shock Till You Drop and had his very own enjoyable horror podcast (The Bloodcast) before leaving to take a development position at Blumhouse. I'll never complain about Turek joining the conversation, though, because he's great and because fucking Horror Voltron can always use an arm or a leg. Plus he can tell a story about
Making this list was tricky, seeing as how there have only been 22 episodes of Shock Waves released thus far (episode 23 should be out the same day as this article). Truth be told, any of the 22 are good and worth listening to. I picked these for personal reasons or because I really liked something a particular guest said or because I thought one might make a good "in" for someone new to the show, but this is not intended to be a list of the "best" episodes so far. I considered cheating and including a few episodes of Killer POV that were released between October of last year and when it ended in April, but I want to keep this list Shock Waves-specific. If you aren't already, get caught up on both. I've said it before and I'll repeat it here: this podcast is the single piece of media I look forward to more than any other each week. I love it.
The Reboot! - When Killer POV announced on a Friday last April that they were calling it quits (the same week they won the Rondo Award for Best Podcast), it was a sad day for many of us. But by the following Monday, they had already risen like a phoenix from the ashes to announce their new venture -- Shock Waves -- and their new home at Blumhouse.com. A wave of blood-soaked relief washed over us all. This first episode of Shock Waves is a good place to start for anyone who didn't listen to Killer POV and is new to the show (but also why haven't you listened to Killer POV?), as it re-introduces the hosts and just lets them talk about horror for a little bit. It's so good to have everyone back.
Episode 2: We Still Scream for Scream Factory! - Several of my favorite episodes of Killer POV were when the guys from Scream Factory, Jeff Nelson and Cliff MacMillan, would come on the show to talk about titles and pull the curtain back for a look at what goes into running a company like this. We get to hear about titles they've tried to get, studios that won't license certain movies, extra features they've put together, titles they've got coming up and some responses to fan requests/complaints; this episode, in particular, is interesting because they answer criticisms over Scream Factory's decision to put out Victor Salva's Jeepers Creepers and Jeepers Creepers 2. I love these episodes not just because I'm fascinated at the behind the scenes stuff and because I'm such a fan of what Scream Factory does, but also because of the giddy enthusiasm everyone has (except maybe MacMillan, the unshakeable straight man, who is enthusiastic but never giddily so) for the horror genre. They love talking about it. I love listening to them talk about it. Everybody wins!
The Horrors of Mike Flanagan - One of my favorite things about being a fan of Killer POV (and now Shock Waves) since the early days is that I've seen the influence of the podcast and its hosts grow and grow over the last few years. It might be the release of God Told Me To... on Blu-ray because Elric Kane requested Blue Underground owner Bill Lustig put it out or it might be the fact that musician St. Vincent is directing an installment of the upcoming anthology XX making headlines when the story broke on Killer POV (though they did not get the credit they deserved for getting that announcement first). On Episode 4 of Shock Waves, director Mike Flanagan talked about how he'd love to someday adapt Stephen King's novel Gerald's Game for film; cut to a few months later and the film is in production for Netflix with Flanagan at the helm. How fucking cool is that? The conversation Flanagan has with the hosts is great -- revealing, honest, down to earth and always interesting. Like a lot of my favorite episodes of the show, it makes me like the guest as a person so much that I like his or her movies even more. That's no small feat.
Episode 5: The Resurrection of a Hollywood Director - This is a rarity for Shock Waves in that it's a solo outing with Rob Galluzzo as he interviews Mark Pavia, director of The Night Flier, who took a near 20-year absence before directing Scream Factory's first original feature Fender Bender this year. So many of the guests on Shock Waves (and Killer POV before it) talk completely candidly about their experiences in the filmmaking business and Pavia is no exception. His endless enthusiasm and optimism even while discussing the years he spent trying to get projects off the ground (while he didn't direct a feature between Night Flier and Fender Bender, he never stopped working) is inspiring and completely charming. It's a great comeback tale from a filmmaker who never actually went away.
The Masters of Horror vs. THE FLY - I know that no matter how much I might want to be, I'm never going to be friends with directors William Malone and Mick Garris. I'm never going to have the chance to sit and hang out with them for two hours, which is a bummer because they seem to be two of the nicest guys on the planet and both true lovers and historians of horror. Thankfully, I've got this episode of Shock Waves through which to live vicariously, as it feels just like sitting around and talking horror with the both of them. Though the episode was recorded during a brief window in which the show was having some sound/studio issues, it's a delightful and warm-hearted discussion with two of horror's greats. What I really love about this one is that, while both Garris and Malone get to talk about their careers and experiences, they're being brought on as horror fans to discuss both versions of The Fly. Everyone's insights into both movies will only serve to make you appreciate them more and want to watch them immediately, which happens more often than not when I listen to the show. Nothing influences my viewing habits more than Shock Waves.
Episode 9: Producing with Peter Block - You may not immediately recognize the name Peter Block, but if you're a horror fan you've been a fan of his work since the early 2000s. As one of the guys instrumental for acquiring and releasing many of the best horror films of the decade during his time at Lionsgate to his days as president of FEARnet, Block knows the genre inside and out and has some really fun stories to share. It's always great to hear when people on the "business" side of horror are able to talk about those aspects while still proving to be lovers of the genre through and through.
Chatting with Bill Moseley! - I've heard Bill Moseley interviewed a number of times and he always comes off as a fun, affable conversationalist. But this talk is the best I've heard with the actor (further evidence that the Shock Waves hosts aren't just talented writers and great horror fans, but exceptional interviewers as well). Sure, we get to hear his "origin" story again, but we also get to hear crazy shit like his proposed ending for Texas Chainsaw 3D and ideas for some other Chop Top stories. Plus now we all want to track down a copy of The Texas Chain Saw Manicure.
Episode 12: DON'T BREATHE/EVIL DEAD Director Fede Alvarez - Like I already said, one of my favorite aspects of Shock Waves is how much it humanizes the filmmakers whose work we love; by getting to know them as people, it makes me want to support and appreciate them even more than I already do. Promoting his second feature Don't Breathe, director Fede Alvarez is an open book when it comes to his feelings about his career (and why he's not interested in doing a big superhero movie), the marketing of his movies and so much more. He also offers some great observations about expectations and what makes his films work. He's not cocky or arrogant, just confident and assured in what he wants to accomplish and what kind of movies he wants to make. Many of the directors who come on the show are either working in the trenches of the indie world or else filmmakers who have a body of work behind them, so it's interesting to hear Alvarez talk about his craft on his way up through the studio system.
Episode 18: All Hail Larry Cohen! - It's science fact that Larry Cohen is the best. It stands to reason, then, that a long and boisterous conversation between Elric, Rebekah and Rob -- all of whom are fans well-versed in his filmography -- and an always-entertaining raconteur like Cohen would also be the best. Hearing Cohen articulate what makes his films so unique (I'm paraphrasing, but it has to do with taking concepts that are meant to be good and turning them against us) alone makes this episode required listening, but the beautiful and touching story about the long friendship between Cohen and composer Bernard Herrmann puts it over the top.
Deep Inside "The Tension Experience" - This is kind of a weird pick, as there is nothing about "The Tension Experience" -- an "extreme haunt" in Los Angeles masterminded by director Darren Lynn Bousman and screenwriter Clint Sears -- that is remotely appealing to me. But that's precisely why I'm including it on this list. As horror fans, we're all into this stuff for different reasons and chasing different experiences; while this doesn't resemble anything I want out of the genre (my sentiments echoed on the show by Rob G.), I love hearing what affects other horror lovers and the extent to which they'll go to chase that feeling. To my knowledge, there is nothing like any of the extreme haunts mentioned on this episode around my home in Chicago (though I wouldn't go if there was), so the thorough explanation of just what the Tension Experience involves is completely fascinating. By listening to it discussed by guests Buz Wallick and Andrew Kasch, I don't ever have to go. You read TV Guide, you don't need a TV.
New episodes of Shock Waves are available on Blumhouse.com and on iTunes every Friday.